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Ukraine gains new Antarctic role


Country takes over as chair of Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources

Ukraine has become the new chair of an international alliance for Antarctic conservation, despite fears that Russia would try to block efforts to appoint the country.

Ukrainian diplomat Vitalii Tsymbaliuk will represent the country as chair of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) for the next two years, the commission confirmed on 4 November.

The appointment comes despite an earlier warning from a Ukrainian government official that Russia might attempt to interfere due to its invasion of Ukraine.

CCAMLR is responsible for the science-based management of most species in the Southern Ocean. The elected chair plays an important role, guiding meetings and talks, and making proposals to resolve issues.

Ukraine takes over from Sweden as CCAMLR chair. Jakob Granit, outgoing chair and director general of the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, told Research Professional News he was “very pleased to see Ukraine taking over” as chair of the council.

Since 1982, CCAMLR has picked the chair by order of member names arranged alphabetically in the English language and Ukraine was next in line. Andrii Fedchuk, head of Ukraine’s National Antarctic Scientific Center’s International Scientific and Technical Cooperation Department, previously said it was “highly likely” Russia would try to interfere.

But Granit described the process to appoint the new chair as “automatic”.

Granit added: “Members of CCAMLR will support Ukraine in the important task of conserving Antarctica’s marine living resources.”

According to the Ukrainian embassy in Chile, where Tsymbaliuk recently served as a diplomat, he is now based at Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kyiv.